Today I’ve been pondering a lot about two conversations I had yesterday with two different friends. Conversations that were intense with feelings and deeply personal and all about coming out and being queer in America today.
For those of you who don’t know, I’m queer (bisexual, pansexual, bi-romantic lesbian, insert your label here) — for those of you who’ve known me for years and didn’t know, I’m a little shocked too (in that you didn’t know) — as I’ve been out for 13 years. Out to the varying degrees that one is in varying different situations and settings. The first time I came out may have been to my childhood best friend, a few months after he came out to me; but when everyone assumes you’re straight, coming out never ends. A toast to all those brave enough to come out and a wish of bravery for those who haven’t.
Yesterday, my first conversation was with a queer friend, who’s more recently come out. We chatted about dating; about the women that we love but live so far away; about family, those who love us, reject us, are in the middle; about being out; about those kindred spirits who befriend us and those who knew long before we could say it; about conversations with others — who we’d never talk to about “those issues” — that left us wondering; and about the wonder of just being who we are, no apologies or remorse. Our emotions went on the roller-coaster from laughing to regret and sadness to happiness. But I was always glad to have someone to talk with, someone else to understand.
My second conversation was with a straight friend, who’s a big ally. Our conversation was more about the personal being political, about the R74 vote (gay marriage in WA). We talked a lot about how the two-party system in the US doesn’t have any real political differences, except when you get down to the “you’re a baby killer” (pro-choice Dems) and the “you’re a bigot” (anti-gay rights Reps) and how deep a nerve that hits. Nerves that run way deeper than “let’s argue about tax policies that we probably don’t fully understand.” About the privilege associated with being able to pick to vote on the economy, taxes, or who’s sexiest. About this article, which is essentially the story of really understanding that privilege and maybe choosing not to vote on the economy.
We’re a nation of storytellers, and this is part of my story. This is why when I’m not alone, writing in my apartment, I may get incoherent. This is why I get angry and why I might get upset with you. I truly do believe that everyone has the patriotic duty to vote and that everyone should vote for the candidate who they think would do the best job. I believe that political differences are healthy and debates should flourish to be more than incoherent rantings. I believe that both Obama and Romney are running from President because they love America and believe that their ideas are the best for the country, which is an extremely American thing to do. I don’t think I should get so mad I want to cry when trying to explain why I’m passionate about “queer lady issues” as a queer lady.
I think a lot about what’s happened since I came out (the good, bad, and in-between). I think of how my mom told that she didn’t want me to be gay because she didn’t want me to get hurt by the world. I think about how in these past 13 years, I couldn’t imagine not being out and how uncomfortable I’ve been in situations where I’ve chosen not to speak up. Civil rights are the personal as political. And today, this is what’s happening. This is me.